Candy Rant

"I killed a rat with a stick once."

Friday, January 01, 2010

Leaving the "Aughts" Behind

It is actually 2010. Twenty-ten, as the hipsters say.

All I remember about New Year's Day 2000 (which I insisted on adding a comma to, because 2,000 looked so much groovier to me) is great relief that the end of the world had not taken place when all the computers rolled over in their sleep and burped into a new millennium. The bottled water I'd purchased was still safely tucked into the still-working refrigerator, and the fire hydrant-sized flashlight I'd bought at Kmart (very last one) had been clicked on only for testing. I had survived Y2K with merely the minor abrasion on my checking account. And boredom. Disappointed boredom that comes when the world NOT ending piles on top of the post-holiday letdown you already have, and there you are, with your new Isotoner slippers and your bland mood and a tired question mark floating over your head.

I believed, on that New Year's Day, that I had exhausted all possibilities for happiness. I'd been divorced for not quite a year, was still bleeding from that jagged wound, and was sure that if I ever did find someone to be with again, it would be that forced smile kind of being-with. The settling for someone who was bearable, but who didn't have a sense of humor that would fit with mine, and who would never be able to make me feel over-the-moon, and I wouldn't do it for him either. I couldn't open the door of my mind to even fathom that things could be good someday. When I forced it open with a crowbar, it slammed shut and shook the whole apartment complex.

Things do change. I was in my second year of teaching at the Big Giant University (a job I'd never have ventured into had it not been for the husband dumping me) and I was, how could it be, pretty good at it. I spent every minute of my walks across the campus thinking "How can they possibly be allowing me to teach here?" mixed with "They're letting me teach here! This is so cool!"

But there were many things to learn. Like how not to completely blow all my money on things that would make me feel momentarily better, for instance. There were so many trips to TJ Maxx that my closet actually smelled like their store. The money from the divorce settlement went from a slow leak to a raging whitewater blast. Trying to fill the void.

I watched movies, more than anyone I knew. When Blockbuster had their "30 Rentals in 30 Days for 30 Dollars" special that summer, I watched at least one movie a day. The guy at the counter not only came to know me, but told me I was the only customer they had who had gotten all 30 movies, and had been in all 30 days. I was too unhappy to care about how that looked.

Hankie, my beloved cat, and I sat on the couch for hours and hours in front of those movies. He slept, and I watched. And I petted him and watched him blink his eyes in that "I'm here" way that cats do.

I was 40. Now I'm 50. Tragedies have happened. Pain has javelined through my family and run us through several times. Loss has become our fluent language, as it eventually does with everyone.

But I have to also admit to joy. I still laugh, I still love and get loved back, and I'm still learning how to do both. And somewhere, mid-decade of the "aughts" I met a guy whose sense of humor fits mine so well that my mother says "You've finally met your match." Over the moon is a regular destination. And I'm so out of practice at forcing smiles that I can't remember how. Which is good. One thing the aughts taught me was not to fake emotions, of any kind, with any person, ever. Not that easy to learn when you've been un-true to yourself forever.

Charlie, my dad's old army buddy, emailed last week and reported on the others from the old group: "I talk to everyone I can contact. Most are considering all things, and doing well." This "well" he describes includes blindness, paralysis, cancer, congestive heart failure, and loneliness. "Well" becomes relative. We take the days we can get. Charlie also wrote: "I know it won't be a Merry Christmas of old, but God has everything set to His liking. Let's accept and give thanks for all He provides. Tell your dad Merry Christmas, even if he doesn't remember me."

Happy New Year to you, 2010. I wish you a year of "considering all things," especially those parts of who you are that you've ignored for too long.




  • At 10:39 PM, Anonymous JWebb said…

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  • At 10:42 PM, Anonymous JWebb said…

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  • At 3:32 PM, Blogger Citlali said…

    Happy New Year to you too, Candy! Another completely appropriate and emotionally satisfying post. Perfect commentary on the end of a very significant decade. Kisses for you and Scott. = ]

  • At 9:19 PM, Blogger E. said…

    Happy New Year to you too! I'm glad the aughts brought you from the bummers to your current happiness with a man who makes you laugh (and cooks delectable meals on top of it). And I'm glad that though all the pain your family has stuck together and kept each other laughing.

  • At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Otter said…

    And I'm honored to have known you through it all, even if I never see you even though you are back in CU again.

  • At 5:50 PM, Blogger Candy Rant said…

    Who are you, Otter?

    E., I gotta talk to you about your writing assignments. I want to steal some. :)

    Citlali, Frozen Illinois kisses back atcha.

  • At 10:13 PM, Anonymous jenni said…

    Ah, Candy. I get all teary. You say it so perfectly. Have a simply magnificent twenty-ten.


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